Bahrain | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Bahrain

Bahrain

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

70

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

25

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

23

The constitution allows for the right to press freedom, excluding opinions that undermine the fundamental beliefs of Islam or the "unity of the people" and those that promote "discord or sectarianism." In practice, the government significantly restricts this right. While criticism in the press of government policies and the expression of opinions on domestic and foreign issues has increased in recent years, the 2002 Press Law includes 17 categories of offenses, 3 of which allow for prison sentences. Despite the fact that the prime minister declared the Press Law to be "frozen" one week after its issuance, the government continues to enforce it at its discretion. Most notably, in March 2003 authorities sentenced Manour Al Jamry, the editor-in-chief of the only truly independent newspaper, Al-Wasat, to one month in jail or a large fine (his case is on appeal) for publishing sensitive information concerning a local terrorist cell. Another Al-Wasat employee involved in this matter was fined as well. The government owns and operates all radio and television stations in the country, and these outlets broadcast only official views. Print media are privately owned, but they usually exercise self-censorship in articles covering sensitive topics. Broadcast media from neighboring countries are available, though the government continues to ban the Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera. The government remains the country's only Internet provider.